dontravis.com blog post #559
Let’s start a new story this week, a three-parter about a guy with a history returning to his hometown to find the kid who used to idolize him has grown into a hunky, handsome young man. But given the recent tragedy in his life, can he advantage the situation?
Here we go.
“Take the shot,” I whispered as the four-point buck left the cover of the pine forest and hesitantly stepped onto the narrow meadow. The animal took a long look around before carefully lowering his head to the pale autumn grass.
“Me!” Markey gasped aloud. The white tail’s head shot up, ears flicking nervously. The animals were skittish as hell this late in the season. We had glimpsed a button buck and a spike, both of which were legal, but this was our first decent shot of the hunt.
“Yes, you!” I hissed. “Take it.” For someone who had been so blessed eager to come on the hunt, Marcus Markey seemed downright reluctant to pull the trigger. “Markey, point that fucking rifle and shoot.” I allowed a little exasperation to seep into my voice, knowing that would motivate him.
He eased the Remington thirty-aught-six over the edge of the blind and took a bead. I watched as he drew a breath, held it, and squeezed. Judging from the stricken look on his face as the report echoed against the far hills, his aim had been good. The second last thing the kid desired was to kill a living animal; the very last thing was to look like a pussy to someone he looked up to…and that would be me.
There was a gulp, and the strangled words. “Got him.”
“Good shot, buddy. Your first kill.”
“Yeah…kill,” he responded with another gulp.
“Well, let’s go collect him,” I said, leaving the blind and starting down the hill.
My name is Daniel Chamberlain, and I had recently returned to my Oklahoma hometown of Victor for the first time in fifteen, tumultuous years. If the navy had tamed my wild side, the SEALS handed it back in spades. You will neither read nor hear news reports about the clandestine missions I’d been on, but I have killed and collected commendations for the killing. Quiet heroes, the SecNav once said of my team.
Doubtless, I would have finished out my career and retired to a restless pastoral life of secret memories had it not been for Beet. When Beet—Warren Borak—a lithe, dangerous man four years my senior, took a nineteen-year-old tadpole under his wing, neither of us suspected powerful forces had been unleashed. He guided me, counseled me, nurtured me, and protected me. And one memorable, moonless night in Lebanon, fucked me vigorously in the excitement of an especially brutal action while we waited for the team to reassemble.
My life was never the same after that. Nor was my future…our future. Ten years into my enlistment, Beet and I got drunk with some buddies in Naples where our physical attraction for one another surfaced. We were kicked out of the navy in record time and with as little fanfare as possible.
We became mercenaries, fighting for causes just and not-so-just all over Africa and Southeast Asia. Happy and open about our relationship, we dared the macho world of mercenaries to do something about it, but those intrepid warriors didn’t give a shit. So we hired out for buckets full of money to do what our government had trained us to do for peanuts.
Then last year, my beautiful Beet…a nickname hung on him by the SEALS…died in a firefight with a vicious gang in Africa. That he, a superbly trained professional, should die at the hands of rank amateurs strung out on local drugs was almost beyond belief. I completed my contract, taking a terrible toll on the tribal militia that had killed my beloved. Collecting my own pay and a whopping life insurance settlement as Beet’s beneficiary, I returned to the United States and tarried in the east until it was clear Uncle Sam had no beef with me for my activities of the last five years. Then I returned home.
Marcus Markey was an eight-year-old neighbor kid when I left for boot camp at Grand Island Naval Training Station. The boy had lived next door to us since the family returned to Victor upon the death of his GI father in Kosovo. Markey, who had adopted me as his big brother, struggled beside me with all the push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, flutter kicks, running, and swimming I did for a month to get ready for boot. He even attempted the Ninjutsu and Israeli Krav Maga moves recommended by the BUD/S—that would be the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training—website. After each workout, he liked to run his hands over my sweaty biceps to test the hard muscle; it bothered me in a vague way I didn’t understand back then. Markey went to the bus station with my family to see me off, and I still recall his thin arms locked around my waist in a goodbye hug, and the tears that soaked my shirt.
Now, glancing at him as we strode down the meadow, I could still see traces of that shy, adoring kid in this lanky twenty-three-year-old. He’d retained the creamy complexion and black sloe-eyes that gave him a slightly foreign cast. A once shaggy mop of black hair was cut short in a vaguely military style. But if Markey ever joined up, he was in for a bad time until he got tough enough to secure his own ground. It wasn’t just that he was far beyond merely handsome; his long, curled lashes alone would earn him grief in the barracks. Markey could have been a beautiful girl except for the Adam’s apple. I wondered if he had ever cross-dressed. There wasn’t a sign of a beard on his smooth skin, although I’m sure there was one; it merely cleaned up well. There wasn’t much of the kid I knew fifteen years ago in this fantastic youth—except for the shy, diffident demeanor.
“Kinda small,” he observed wryly as we reached the fallen stag.
“It’ll make good venison. Well, let’s get at it,” I suggested, noting the absence of any pride in the kill. “We’ve gotta field dress him.”
“You mean cut him up?” The words were almost strangled.
“You want to leave him for the coyotes?”
“N…no. Of course, not. But I don’t know how.”
“We’ll gut him now and pack him back to camp to dry out a little.”
“Uh…okay. Will he be all right tonight? You know, he won’t go bad?”
“No. It’s cool enough. He’ll hold for a couple of days.”
We hauled the buck away from the kill area and strung him up in a tree. After a couple of false starts, Markey slit its belly with a grimace of distaste. When that job was done, we hauled the carcass back to camp where we hung it again, washed out the cavity, and left it to dry. Then I grabbed a bar of soap, stripped, and waded into the lake. Ignoring the shock of cold water, I lathered up while Markey stood on the shore staring at me in disbelief. After all, it was November.
“If I’ve learned one thing in the last ten years, it’s to keep clean,” I called. “Keeping clean is half of staying healthy. Coming in?”
I watched as he undressed in the late afternoon sun, revealing a long-limbed, clean-muscled physique with unblemished skin and little body hair except for a pubic bush. Visually embarrassed, he turned with his flank toward me, which merely silhouetted a long cock sprouting from curly hair. He rushed into the water and gasped aloud at its frigid grip.
I continued lathering, well aware of black eyes studying me closely. I rinsed and repeated process until my skin squeaked. When I tossed him the soap, he seemed frozen in place. Then he floundered frantically until he recovered the bar. As Markey scrubbed, I could tell my inspection bothered him, so I swam out into the lake. Sufficiently warmed by my exertions, I silently submerged and covered the distance to the shore underwater. When I surfaced beside him, Markey was frantically calling my name.
“Right here,” I said quietly, startling him.
“Damn, Daniel! I thought something happened to you. You were under for a long time.”
“A fifty-yard underwater swim is mandatory for SEALS.” I laughed. “You’d be surprised how many tadpoles had to have water pumped out of their lungs after their first try.”
Markey’s teeth were chattering, so I crawled out of the water, knowing he would follow. To spare him further embarrassment, I kept my eyes averted as we dried off and dressed. I did the cooking, a trade-off for him cleaning up the gear afterward. Later, as darkness was wresting supremacy from light, we sat at a campfire and sucked on long-necked bottles of beer.
“How was it?” he asked out of the blue. “You know, the SEALS.”
“Great! Best time of my life.”
“Why’d you get out?”
I swallowed the temptation to tell him the truth. “Found out there was more money to be made outside the navy for doing the same thing.”
“I heard you were a soldier of fortune, but I didn’t believe it.”
“You were so gung-ho.”
“You grow out of that pretty quick.”
He let a small silence grow as I sensed some of the hero worship leaking away. Then, “How come you went for the SEALS?”
“After boot, I got caught up in the spirit and put in for BUD/S training.”
“How was it?”
“Hell,” I said simply.
He grinned into the dying flames. “How about Hell Week?”
“Hell on steroids. You thinking about becoming a tadpole?”
That brought a quick frown and another swig from the bottle. “Naw. Not cut out for it. Wouldn’t fit in,” he added enigmatically.
Well, we know who Markey is now, don’t we? He’s the young man struggling. But Daniel has his own battle, doesn’t he? Will he opt to help Markey or help himself?